Impartial Negotiations


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Scene Title Impartial Negotiations
Synopsis Tracy Strauss follows a lead given by Maury Parkman to Pinehearst, and discovers something no one could have expected…
Date July 3, 2009

Pinehearst Headquarters

What is in a name?

The soft rumble of an elevator's gradual descent is made all the more unusual by the lack of elevator music echoing tinny in the metal walls. A fluorescent light situated in the ceiling flickers intermittantly, and a soft digital chime responds as basement levels tick by slowly. Reflected in the metal doors, the blonde hair and stern eyes of Tracy Strauss looks right at home within the sterile walls of the elevator's cold, metallic confines. It's as if she's always belonged here.

It is a commonly quoted question. But the true answer to it is not as readily spoken. What is in a name? Power.

When the fourth chime comes, the fourth basement levels arrived at, the elevator doors slowly slide open with a screech of metal, dividing Tracy's reflection in two distinct halves. The hallway the doors open out to look to be in a state of remodeling, men in blue jumpsuits work to set up new drywall, electricians perched on ladders are refitting new fluorescent lights, and the tile underfoot looks recently added.

To know someone's name, an old superstition goes, is to have power over them. How true, in this digital age, is such a belief?

With a soft click-clack of her shoes on the tile, Tracy follows instructions given to her at the front desk. It was there, with one secretary, that the name Roger Goodman was spoken by miss Strauss as the man she was to meet. But the look of surprise, and disbelief on the secretary's face, came with instructions not to wait, but to go.

A name can be an entire identity, an entire life, an entire reason for being. Lose that, and what left do you have?

So she follows the instructions, downto the fourth floor basement, straight out from the elevators to the end of the hall, to a pair of double doors. And, just like she was asked, a simple knock on the doors, and the quiet report of an old man's voice with a strong New York accent on the other side.

"Come in."

Tracy's not afraid.

She should be, but she is not. Quite the opposite, exactly. This is exhilirating for her. She'd rather not have to do it, not under these circumstances, but the fact that she has the opportunity, and that she believes that she can do it? It's fabulous beyond belief.

Then, of course, there is the whole issue of her lovely ability. Unknown to all save for her well-paid lawyer, an insane person and an ousted member of the government, Tracy feels secure in her secret, but it's something she can always fall back on. She feels like she's constantly armed, and it's something they can't take away from her. It's security.

Preparing for such a meeting, Tracy wore a sleeveless dress, pearls glimmering, hair up. She walks with a sway in her step, oozing confidence, power and femininity. At least, that's what she's trying to ooze. Finding the doors, she doesn't hesitate, but raps on them with her knuckles. The voice granting her access is also taken in stride, one hand taking the handle of the door and pushing to sweep inside. Who knows what's going to happen here, but something's going to change. That much Tracy is certain, even without having met what's on the other side yet.

It's hardly the devil on the other side of the door, seated behind that antique mahogeny desk. Rather, it's a grandfatherly old man with salt and pepper colored hair, a weary and world-worn expression on his face, hands folded as he reclines back against the supple, creaking leather of his chair. The simulated sunlight coming through blinds on the window behind him gives this subterranean office a feeling of being above-ground, an illusion of light.

"Miss Strauss," apparently, though, this old man was expecting her. Pushing aside some paperwork and laying a manilla folder closed, he rises up from his chair with a strange, difficult to read smile on his face, "it's a pleasure to finally make your aquaintence. I'm Arthur Petrelli." His voice is strong, confident and assured as he clears the distance and comes to her, offering out his hand. "I apologize for all of the cloak and dagger nature of our meeting, but we live in dangerous times." He's tall, confident, everything she expects from a corporate leader, though the stories she has heard paint the periphery of this first face-to-face meeting as something more dangerous.

In some ways, also what she was expecting.

Tracy takes the offered hand, giving it a firm, professional shake. That smile, playing across her lips. What a smile, it says so much. It shows a beautiful woman, with light in her face, but with so much more behind it, so many secrets, there's really no telling. Even people who find themselves wiggling inside of her brain don't get the opportunity to touch it all. "I understand completely, Mr. Petrelli." She lets her hand fall, or at least tries to release his. "What with the riots, Humanis First attacks, Staten Island's state of unrest and coming back from the dead, of course." She doesn't flinch, doesn't falter from his eyes.

"It's no small wonder my son picked you as his aide," Arthur states with a hint of pride in his voice, "Nathan always did have a weakness for blondes." Perhaps that was unprofessional, but the lopsided smile plastered across Arthur's face seems to indicate that there's some play for jest allowed in the professionalism of the conversation. "The world is slowly spiraling down the drain, miss Strauss, it has been since we allowed this city of ours to be destroyed by the whims of conspiracy and lunacy."

He turns from her, moving back to his desk to scoop up that manilla folder, tapping it against his other hand. "I think you have an idea about what goes on here, or you're starting to." He turns, slowly, regarding Tracy over his shoulder with dark brows lowered. "I was paid a visit by an aide of General Sebastian Autumn the other day. I think you deserve to know that my company is working to re-develop a formula for your administration, one that can turn every soldiers in the United States Military into an Evolved fighting machine." He offers out the folder to Tracy after clearing the distance again.

"This is something to pass along to my son, if you would. But I would prefer it if you left my name out of those discussions. "Nathan…" Arthur's eyes dip down to the folder for a moment's pause, then lift back up again, "he's going to need time to get used to the idea that I'm still alive." Either Arthur's a solid liar, or he has no idea which Nathan happens to be in the white house.

Tracy does, but she's not about to reveal that. Instead, she takes the file, and thumbs through it briefly, listening while her eyes dart over the pages. She can multitask when it is required of her. However, his talk about Nathan causes her to lower the folder, tucking it under her arm. She glazes over the comment about blondes - unprofessional but true, hardly something worth arguing over. Instead, she gets to one of the main points of her agreeing to come here.

"Yes, about that. I'll be more than happy to work with you on a number of things, Mr. Petrelli, but I have some demands of my own." Her smile widens, becoming chillier. "Normally I outline what I can do for you before I go to what you can do for me, but since you brought it up…if Nathan doesn't know you're alive, I'd like to request that it be kept that way for the time being. His office is in enough turmoil as is, and your being alive might spin all of that well beyond even my control. I can assure you that neither of us want that."

"Agreed," Arthur says almost reflexively, "I have one son who's caused me enough problems by thinking he was doing what was right by his father, I think I'll play my cards safe and not make that two." Tucking his hands casually into the pockets of his slacks, Arthur looks Tracy up and down once, then lets his eyes flit to the door behind her. "Outside of your vested interests in my son and the FRONTLINE project," his blue eyes land back on Tracy, "there is something else I think you and I might have to discuss. However, that will require a walk down to lab five. We can talk while we walk?" One charcoal colored brow rises up with a crease of his forehead, eagerly anticipating her response/

Tracy bows her head in consent. "I'm always up for a walk," she agrees, stepping aside from the door to let him lead the way. "It will be a good opportunity. Frontline and your sons aside, I'd certainly like to discuss the press release your office made for a 'cure' for Evolved abilities." She says, ready to walk along side him when he heads out the room, continuing to talk as they walk down the hall. "I'd like to hear more about that as well. If marketed properly, I can defiantly see that as a potential point that the Petrelli government might throw it's support behind."

"Ah," Arthur notes with raised brows, "that." There's almost a hint of something humorous in his eyes as he dips his head into a nod and moves around Tracy to the doors of his office, holding one side open for her to move out into the hall before following suit. "The order of that design comes down from the on-paper CEO Morgan Deitrich out in Pinehearst global headquarters in Germany." Moving to walk at Tracy's side, Arthur's path takes her down one of the branching hallways past the remodeling crews.

"I have my own spin on the matter, but it's a back-seat affair right now, when you take into consideration what we're doing for the government. There are temporary cures already around, a pharmaceuticals company — one of Pinehearst's rivals — Biomere International developed in secret for the US Government a suppression drug. First pills, then later an injection." He pauses by a large glass door, removing a proximity card to wave in front of the magnetic lock until the red light turns green and the door slides into the wall. "It's rather effective, but the first batch had some…" Arthur cracks a smile, "design flaws."

"As will happen," she states, waiting for him to lead the way through. "Though I hope you understand that we won't even be able to consider this sort of program for our soldiers until it's no longer flawed." It's very bad publicity to be mistreating one's soldiers. "How far are you from completion, by your estimates?"

"If the formula designs go well, you won't need suppression drugs for your soldiers. You'll be able to hand pick the best and the brightest. No more relying on bottom-of-the-barrel draft picks, as it were." Stepping through the security door, Arthur now leads Tracy past a series of research labs filled with active staff and banks of computer terminals and lab equipment. Some of the labs have teir blinds drawn, so as to not be able to view what is going on from the hall windows.

"We aren't working on the suppression drug, and the cure?" He pauses and looks side-long to Tracy, "That's easily five years out." Missing only the one beat, Arthur takes back into stride, turning a corner to pass by more laboratories and research rooms, some of them looking more like surgical operating theaters than biochemical research labs. "As for the Formula, we have a working trial ready that we're going to show to General Autumn and a select group of his peers at week's end."

Stopping at one of the lab doors, Arthur waves his proximity badge again, and the door clicks and pops open. Pushing the door in, Arthur waves a hand for Tracy to go in first. The lab beyond is dimly lit only by the computer hardware running, and fluorescent lights on in the back of the room. Rows of computers seem to be running some form of algorithm on their screens, and there is no staff visible inside.

Tracy follows along, keeping up quite easily, her high heels clicking on the floor to herald the way. How very excellent for General Autumn. However, you've missed the biggest key here, which is Nathan. You, obviously, can't present this to him yourself. Even General Autumn or Vice President Mitchell…." once in the room, she turns to face him. "If you want this to go through smoothly, and to remain smooth, you're going to need Nathan's sign-off. Believe me when I say that no one else can get that for you but me." And she says it with such force, such conviction that it's hard to doubt the truth behind it.

"Of that, miss Strauss, I have absolutely no doubt. I was hoping you might make yourself amenable to the idea of becoming the intemediary between Pinehearst and the President's office, until such a time that I could more openly act." Closing the door to the lab, Arthur moves over to a computer, quietly walking to the terminal before disengaging it from the algorythm analysis. The screens displayed beneath are strange, analysis of solar eclipses and radiation waves. Those windows are minimized, and a command prompt is brought up to run a batch file that prints a list of names from an encrypted document.

As the names begin to scroll, Arthur turns back to look at Tracy. "There is another matter at hand as well, miss Strauss. One that I would greatly appreciate your assistance in, and one that I feel the united states government would benefit highly from." There's a loud beep that comes from the screen, and Arthur turns around, tracing his finger down the names printed, and then cross-references the name PATIENT 0 with a number on the other side of the screen, CX-2112. He closes the file, pulls up another command prompt, and types in a brief command line, along with the reference number, and something outside of the room emits a noisy mechanical clanking sound.

"I want to use you as an estimate on something, miss Strauss." Arthur turns for the windows in this lab, ones that look down into an operating theater. He beckons her to follow, moving over to one of the plate glass windows that looks down a floor into an operating theater. There, half of the far wall is filled with what resemble small pressurized chambers burn victims would be kept in, running on a rack like how test tubes would be kept.

One of the cases is ejected by a mechanical slide, and lowered down into the center of the room, fogged glass slowly beginning to clear up to reveal someone laying inside, devices on the sides of the case monitoring life support and brain-waves, the latter of which are flatlined.

Tracy follows along, her smile less vibrant as he speaks. "An estimate?" He obviously can't mean to test on her or anything, because that would be insane. "Acting as an intermediary was my thought as well, although I'll need a few more things before we can expressly make that happen." She pauses in front of the window, crossing her arms as she looks down, seeing the form of a person who is, by all accounts, dead and gone. Tracy is a little jarred, and maybe it shows through her icy cool features as she watches. "What am I looking at, Mr. Petrelli?"

"You tell me miss Strauss, and let me know…" Arthur's words trail off as pressure is released from the container, and the lid is rolled back from a seam in the middle like a split soda-can, revealing a man in a hospital gown laying on a padded mat on the contained table, tubes and hoses going in to his nose and mouth, thick, dark brows pressed into a look of frustration or discomfort, perhaps because of his predicament. "I'd like to know just how much the United States Government would offer me…"

As the chill fog from the inside of the climate controlled container disperses, the man laying inside that opened casket of metal and plastic immediately registers on Tracy's mind with something like spinning confusion and disbelief, "…if I was able to give them the Midtown Man." Because laying on that slab, is Gabriel Gray.

It's not often that Tracy Strauss is caught speechless. Usually, no matter the surprise, she can take things in stride, roll with the punches. But some things are just so unexpected, so far out there, that all she can do is gape. Yes, her lips part a little, her jaw slightly dropped as one hand presses to the glass, looking down at Gabriel 'Sylar' Gray. After several moments of open staring she turns to face Arthur Petrelli, mouth still somewhat gaped.

"How did you…?" She trails off, that's all she's really able to get out at first. But her professionalism kicks in soon enough, and she recomposes herself, turning her eyes back to the man in the hopital gown. "How did he get here?"

Offering her a somewhat playful smile, Arthur turns his back on the operating theater window and folds his arms across his chest. "Let's just say our paths crossed, and he decided that the arrangement that I had made for him was not to his liking. So," Arthur's head bobs to the window behind him, "he winds up in his current situation. For all the power he has, you'd imagine that he would have been more careful in a place that has specialized researching the particulars of Evolved abilities."

Brows raised, Arthur watches Tracy's reaction with modest aplomb. "I want to find out just how much additional clout turning him over to the government could get Pinehearst. Because right now, there's angles of approach this company isn't taking because of certain… legal constraints. We'd like access to the Registry, for research purposes. Full access. I think that might be reasonable enough." He fails to notice the tiny barn spider crawling up his pant leg, one that clings to his suit silently during the conversation.

Tracy never imagined she'd see the man with her own two eyes. But here he is. Just laying there. Really, this is one of those life-changing moments. How often do you see a serial murderer and the biggest terrorist in history just laying there, like that? Not often at all. Finally, she turns to regard Arthur again, her smile gone, her brows furrowed. It's too serious for smiles now, with a man like Gabriel Gray nearby. "I'll see what I can do." She assures him. "You understand that I can't promise anything outright." In truth, she doesn't even know who to ask, but…she'll see what she can do. "Anything else you would require for this trade?"

Nodding slowly, Arthur's posture relaxes some. "No, no nothing else at the moment. Though once we find out how amenable your administration is, there may be some negotiations that need to go on, but we'll get to that when the time comes. Right now, I think, it's just good to know who's going to be at the bargaining table."

Walking away from the window, Arthur makes his way back to the computer, typing in another command line until the case folds shut and slides back along the tracks into the containment it was originally held in. Arthur turns, looking up and over to Tracy with a faint smile. "I think that's enough revelations for one day, but there's a private matter I think you and I might want to discuss at some point, but I'd need to get my ducks in a row in order to comfortably put that on the table."

Tracy watches as Gabriel Gray disappears from whence he came, turning to face Arthur again with an almost dismissive air as he alludes to other demands and questions. If he has no intention of getting to them, then she has no intention of wasting her time on the matter. "I'm afraid I do have one more demand, Mister Petrelli."

She steps up a bit toward him, stopping more than a polite distance away. "It's the matter of your messenger, spy, or whatever you'd like to call him. Dealing with a faux Matthew Parkman in DHS has become quite the nuisance. While he was useful to deliver your message to me for this meeting, as far as I'm concerned his work inside of the government is finished, and I'd like to see him out come Monday. Between ourselves, he's not terribly good at the job anyway." That brings that smile back, watching him, waiting to see his response.

Looking over his shoulder, Arthur arches one dark brow and affords Tracy an approving smile. "Cnsider it done. I'd rather have him back here at the office anyway. It should allow young Matthew to get back into the swing of things at his work as if nothing happened. And, preferably, that will be exactly how things go down. I think I've made my point clear enough to mister Parkman about our work here, and I wouldn't want to have to make it again."

Turning off the screen for the computer, Arthur straightens and adjusts the lapels of his suit jacket. "I think you and I have the same outlook on what the future could be, miss Strauss. I'd like to see that future come to pass, because if it doesn't, I have a feeling this world is going to tar itself apart at the seams."

Tracy steps forward as the meeting, clearly, is coming to a close. She offers her hand to him once again, nodding in agreement, although she saves the grandstanding for politicans and Petrellis. "I think we can do business together," she agrees. "I'll be speaking to you again in the next few days concerning Mr. Gray, I trust he'll remain under wraps and between you and myself until then?"

Reaching out to take the hand in a firm shake, Arthur nods his head in firm agreement to Tracy's question. "Oh, Gabriel won't be going anywhere any time soon, of that I can assure you, miss Strauss." As Arthur's hand unwinds from Tracy's, his eyes drift towards the window that overlooks the operating theater, a faint smile creeping up on his lips.

"He's not going anywhere."

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